In general, “litigation” is a broad term that is used to refer to the overall process of pursuing or defending against a legal action in court. Although litigation may involve bringing a lawsuit or going to trial, the term itself covers a much wider range of legal procedures. Some examples of legal activities that fall under the definition of litigation include the following:
- Sentencing hearings;
- Pretrial discovery conferences;
- Motion hearings; and
- Any other in court proceedings or stages before, during, or after a trial for an ongoing dispute.
The primary aim of litigation is to settle a dispute between parties. Hence, why the term is often used interchangeably with the word “lawsuit”. However, litigation can also be used to enforce or to defend someone’s legal rights. Thus, the litigation process covers both civil and criminal matters.
To learn more about the litigation process, you should speak to a local employment litigation lawyer about your legal matter. Employment litigation lawyers can recommend some less expensive ways to settle a dispute than litigation, such as arbitration or mediation. If your legal matter requires the intervention of a court, an employment litigation lawyer will be able to assist you with all of the stages of the litigation process as well.
What is Employment Law Litigation?
Employment law litigation is a form of litigation that focuses on resolving disputes over matters related to employment and the workplace. In most instances, employment law litigation is the result of a dispute between one or more workers and their employer.
For example, an employer may be subjected to the employment law litigation process if they only promote or hire workers of a certain gender. In such a scenario, the employer’s actions would constitute gender discrimination, which is a violation of federal and possibly state law.
Employment law litigation may also entail investigating a company based on whistleblowing claims. Briefly, whistleblowing in an employment law context is when someone at a company (usually an employee) exposes illegal activities like fraud or corruption. In this instance, the litigation process would involve investigating the whistleblowing claim and if discovered, settling the matter or going to trial for the purposes of recovering legal remedies.
Aside from lawsuits and investigations, employers and workers will have to go through the employment law litigation process when a collective action is being pursued by multiple workers. Examples of collective action mechanisms may include the following:
- Class action lawsuits;
- Group litigation orders;
- Multidistrict litigation; and/or
- Representative court actions.
The most common type of collective action in employment law litigation are class action lawsuits. While it is certainly possible for a class action employment lawsuit to settle before it gets to the trial stage of litigation, any settlement awards in a class action lawsuit must be approved by a court. Therefore, the negotiations leading up to a settlement award in a class action lawsuit will still be considered part of the employment law litigation process.
What are Some Employment Disputes that are Commonly Litigated?
Some examples of employment disputes that are commonly litigated include:
- Breach of contract disputes between a worker and an employer;
- Sexual harassment and employment discrimination claims;
- Wage and hour lawsuits (e.g., not being paid on time, being paid less than minimum wage, or not being paid time and a half for working weekends);
- Disputes over safety and health conditions in the workplace;
- Violations of federal and state laws that specify requirements for taking a leave of absence from work;
- Problems with work status classification (e.g., calling a worker an independent contractor when legally they are actually considered an employee);
- Denial of employee benefits, insurance, or pensions; and
- Wrongful termination issues.
How are Damages Calculated in an Employment Lawsuit?
The manner in which damages are calculated in an employment lawsuit will depend on a number of factors, such as how many workers are involved in the lawsuit, what types of damages are being awarded, whether there are limits on the amount of damages in a specific employment case, and/or if there are any applicable federal or state laws that place a cap on the amount of damages that can be awarded by a court.
Another factor that can affect damages in an employment lawsuit is whether an employer is being ordered to pay attorneys’ fees or administrative court costs. In some cases, an attorney may also be paid on a contingency fee basis. This means that a prevailing party will need to pay a portion of the damages award to their employment litigation attorney for working on their case.
In employment lawsuits where a worker recovers back pay and/or loss of future wages as part of their damages award, the amounts can be calculated specifically. This is done by adding up the days of work they missed for back pay and subtracting the money they earned at a new position for loss of future wages.
Additionally, in cases where a worker was never hired for a new position, a judge may calculate damages for future wages. This is done by estimating the potential loss of earnings the worker will likely incur as a result of wrongful termination or whatever issue has led to the lawsuit and thus the loss.
What Services Does an Employment Litigation Lawyer Perform?
Employment litigation lawyers typically specialize in resolving legal disputes that involve federal and/or state employment and labor laws. An employment litigation lawyer may be hired to represent an individual employee, an employer, an entire corporation, or even a labor organization.
The majority of employment litigation attorneys’ work consists of making sure that their clients are in compliance with state, federal, and local employment laws, as well as advising clients of their legal rights under those laws.
Some other types of legal services that employment litigation attorneys perform may include the following:
- Assisting their clients in filing complaints with the proper administrative agency or court;
- Representing clients in lawsuits or during different forms of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration or mediation;
- Recovering damages for workers involved in various legal disputes (e.g., employment discrimination actions, wage and hour lawsuits, employment class actions, and third-party lawsuits);
- Filing appeals for workers’ compensation and other retirement benefits after an employee’s claim has been rejected or denied;
- Advising clients on legal matters that concern labor laws and labor unions (e.g., collective bargaining actions, labor strikes, etc.);
- Drafting, modifying, and reviewing employment contracts or other agreements associated with the workplace and workplace conditions; and/or
- Overseeing any other legal issues or concerns that affect the work environment.
Should I Hire an Employment Litigation Lawyer to Handle My Case?
If you believe that an employer has violated your rights as an employee, then it may be in your best interest to hire a local employment litigation lawyer to further assist you in resolving your work matter. An experienced employment litigation attorney can help you to defend your legal rights and will be able to ensure that your interests are adequately represented.
Your lawyer will also be able to draft the requisite legal documents that you will need in order to initiate a lawsuit against an employer or co-worker. Your lawyer will be able to provide legal representation during a trial and/or at other court proceedings wherein they can assist you in recovering legal remedies as well.
On the other hand, you may also want to consider hiring a local employment litigation attorney if you are being sued by one or more of your employees. Your lawyer can perform legal research from which they will be able to determine whether there are any defenses you can raise against the claims. In addition, your lawyer can discuss your legal rights as an employer and can explain the potential consequences you may face based on the outcome of a lawsuit.